Name: Sala Thai
Location: 36 S Fair Oaks Ave, Madison, WI 53714
Ambience: Mom and Pop Shop
Cost: $$$ (cash only)
Best Dish: Gang Ped
Sala Thai is located far on the East Side, in an unambiguous house. The restaurant’s decor emphasizes the roots of the cuisine, decorated with carved wood and souvenirs from their time in Thailand.
I’ve been to Sala Thai multiple times, but my favorite dish has consistently been the Gang Ped. A red curry with a variety of vegetables and tofu ($11.50), the creaminess of the broth is well complemented by the crunch of the bamboo strips and green beans. The tofu is exceptional. It doesn’t fall to the common pitfall of a tofu dish, remaining firm and very well spiced. The spice level is generous — when they say a 4 is spicy, they actually mean it, and I found myself sniffling a couple of times. The dish never lacks for flavor, and the rice provides a nice, bland compliment to the intensity of the curry.
A companion found the pad thai to be very well made. Their noodles, stir-fry, and fried rices are also good, but their curries are my personal favorites. Their squash curry and panang curry are also stand out vegetarian options. I think it’s my favorite Thai food in Madison, although, I haven’t been out to Ha Long Bay yet, which I’ve been told is a worthy adversary.
A few additional notes — the service is quite slow, and can take up to 40 minutes. I recommend going on a night where you have time to spare, or doing take out. It is also cash only, so remember to withdraw some before going.